Today on my Instagram, I shared a photo from New Orleans that I loved. Despite the good picture, there was a lot going on behind the scenes. As a traveler, I’ve had many travel lessons and many of them mimic what we see in everyday life. Perhaps travel is good practice for the real world? In any case, today I’m sharing one of my recent travel lessons.
If you didn’t see my Instagram stories, I shared the above photo with some additional context. Even though I loved the photo, I got a migraine for the second time in my entire life and was nauseous. This made it difficult to enjoy any sort of walking around (which is kind of the whole thing in New Orleans). Our hotel was an hour late getting us checked in (and were not apologetic at all) and we’d been up since 2 am to catch our flight. I was also surprised to find that I was feeling a little bit of culture shock.
It’s easy to forget that things won’t always go the way we want them to despite how many hours we’ve put into planning every detail. When things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to get frustrated and desperate to change the situation. The danger in this is that it can result in not thinking clearly. Wanting to leave a city I hadn’t given a fair chance is a perfect example of not thinking clearly. Perhaps you were reading my above example and thought to yourself, wow, she’s dramatic. Yeah, I was. Because I wasn’t thinking clearly.
It’s a trap that is easy to fall into. And a trap we all fall into at some point.
In life, and in travel, things aren’t going to go the way you expect them to all of the time. Despite your best planning, you might miss your connecting flight resulting in missing a day of your already-too-short-vacation. Or maybe it rains the only day you had an outside excursion planned and you can’t reschedule it. I travel a lot and I’ve never had a trip go perfectly from start to finish. I’ve had to learn how to embrace the unexpected when traveling (and in life).
When things don’t go according to plan, I have learned that I get two choices.
Option 1: Pout and whine that your whole trip is “ruined”
Option 2: Embrace it and have fun anyways.
I know it can be easier said than done. After all, my initial reaction in New Orleans wasn’t to embrace it. But luckily, I caught myself and changed my perspective. This allowed me to give New Orleans a chance. With practice, you can learn to embrace the suck or go with the flow (whatever you want to call it) more quickly.
You may not have control over the circumstances but you have control over your reaction.
In hindsight, of course I see that these events weren’t a big deal, but they felt like it at the time. And at the time, it would have been easy to pout and whine which would have made it a big deal. By taking control over my reaction, I took control over how much fun I had on the vacation. And good thing because we had a great experience in New Orleans. We would have missed out on an incredible opportunity had I pouted about things not going the way we envisioned.
Plus, my favorite part of travel not going well is that those experiences make the best stories!
For me, mental health and travel are closely related. If you’re interested in learning more, I spoke more about that in a guest post for the Florida Travel Girl, which you can read here.